The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Putting the Free Market to Work in the Interests of National Security

While domestic energy policy is not a silver bullet, it can help extricate the United States from foreign entanglements that have long confounded American decision-makers. History's painful lessons offer us the power to move our elected officials to act in the interest of renewed economic vitality and national security. From the tragedy of U.S.-Middle East relations is born opportunity.

The Consequences of Energy Dependency

U.S. dependence on the international oil industry has ensnared the United States in a web of national security liabilities and threats throughout the Middle East region. Efforts to maintain security of oil supplies, some with highly destructive consequences for the people of the region, have over the last several decades led to the rise of increasingly hostile political actors who in the most dangerous cases believe that the only way to deter the U.S. from pursuing designs over their natural resources is to acquire a nuclear deterrent. But weapons ostensibly intended for defensive purposes can also be used as instruments of coercion in the hands of zealots with expansionist ambitions of their own. The rhetoric and actions of Iranian officials are hardly reassuring.

Saudi Arabia

Longstanding U.S. energy investments in Saudi Arabia began to face intense scrutiny following the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals and U.S. intelligence officials have since identified numerous Saudi-based charities as financial patrons of Al Qaeda. The Saudi monarchy maintains an uneasy coexistence with clerical leaders who propagate a highly xenophobic worldview while buttressing the regime’s façade of religious legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. The September 11th attacks, along with Al Qaeda’s targeting of Saudi oil facilities, have demonstrated to U.S. political leaders that relying on Saudi Arabia to ensure a steady flow of oil at a moderate price is becoming increasingly problematic.

Iraq

American oil investments in Iraq date back to 1928, during which time Iraq was governed under British rule. British political advisors continued to shape Iraq’s domestic and foreign policies until 1958, when the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown in a military coup. Iraq was a founding member of OPEC and by 1972 completed nationalization of its oil industry under Saddam Hussein as a means of achieving economic independence from Western powers.  

Following the 1991 Gulf War, U.S. military forces enforced no-fly zones over Iraqi territory while U.N. weapons inspectors attempted to wrangle the Iraqi government into fully complying with numerous Security Council resolutions. More than a decade of hostile relations culminated in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, motivated by uncertainty over the status of Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs, the erosion of the UN sanctions regime against him, and the vast supply of oil under his control.  

Bush administration officials speculated that the Iraq War might cost as little as $60 billion and asserted that the Iraqi public would greet American troops as liberators. U.S. military planners and policymakers anticipated a brief military operation followed by the guided election of a friendly Iraqi government that would welcome foreign investment in its oil industry

This hopeful scenario turned into a bloody occupation that has cost the lives of nearly 4,500 American troops and over 100,000 Iraqis to date. The Iraqis’ initial expressions of gratitude quickly turned to distrust and hostility after a series of policy blunders resulted in mass unemployment, the collapse of social support infrastructure, a refugee crisis and civil war. 

Approximately 3 million Iraqis remain refugees or internally displaced, hundreds of thousands of them with minimal access to basic public services. Thousands of America’s veterans are being lost to what CBS News has unequivocally called a “suicide epidemic” as a consequence of their deployments to Iraq. The long term cost of the war, including health care for our veterans, has been estimated at more than $3 trillion

Iran

A defining point in the United States’ relationship with Iran can be traced back to 1953, when U.S. intelligence operatives collaborated with their British counterparts in the overthrow of the Iranian Prime Minister due to his defiant opposition to foreign control of Iran’s oil industry. A period of surface-level stability under the rule of the U.S.-friendly shah was shattered by the 1979 revolution, which brought a theocratic and virulently anti-Western regime to power.

Throughout the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War the United States backed Saddam Hussein despite his use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops, further embittering already distrustful Iranian political and military leaders. 

U.S.-Iran tensions continue to heighten as growing evidence indicates that the Iranian government is developing a nuclear weapons capability.

The Solution

Although we cannot wave a magic wand to solve these problems overnight, we can take immediate steps to address their underlying causes. One of the most important actions we can press our elected officials to take is to establish a free market in the transportation fuels industry in order to allow alternative fuels (biofuels, etc) to compete based on their own merits. The Open Fuel Standard Act of 2011 does exactly this. 

Less reliance on oil from the Middle East would conceivably reduce the pressure or temptation to take a hard power approach to problems in the region. The historical record demonstrates that the consequences of this approach — including political radicalization, terrorism and nuclear proliferation — are less predictable and potentially more costly to manage in the long term, however necessary they may be viewed at the time.  

Fuel diversification would also help reduce global demand for oil and relieve pressure on supply capacity, thereby reducing the price of gasoline and alternative fuels, like biofuels, over the long term and reducing OPEC’s power over the U.S. A reduction in the price of oil would help accelerate and sustain a U.S. economic recovery, stimulating private sector job creation and enabling our government to pay back more than $1 trillion in debt to China.

Given the oil industry’s insidious political influence over Congress, this is not likely to happen without a major concerted push from the American public. Our elected officials need to be pressed to defy this influence and demonstrate their support for our troops and free market principles by passing legislation to open the transportation fuels market to competition.

The power is in our hands but we have to be ready for a fight. We can expect the oil industry to invest its massive profits in lobbying from the shadows, buying influence through campaign contributions, co-opting media outlets, and engaging in public disinformation campaigns. We must remember that the stakes are high and be determined to win.  If we neglect to address this systemic problem we can be sure that our troops will remain in the Middle East for a long time to come, and our future economic growth will remain constrained by an industry that wields far too much power over our elected officials. 

Thomas J. Buonomo is a former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Middle East Studies from the U.S. Air Force Academy and has spent the past six years researching U.S. foreign energy policy in the Middle East.

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Why Renewable Energy in Latin America is a Winner

Carlos Candiales Renewable energy in Latin America has made some important gains over the last decade and seems positioned to continue...

Economic Impact Study Provides Insight into the Benefits of Biofuel

Vince Font An economic impact study published by POET, one of the largest producers of ethanol in the world, is driving home the...

States Already Seek To Delay Clean Power Plan

Andrew Harris, Bloomberg Fifteen states led by coal-rich West Virginia asked a federal court to stall Obama administration rules intended to c...

PRESS RELEASES

Array Technologies’ DuraTrack HZ v3 Continues to (R)evolutionize at SPI

Array Technologies, Inc. (ATI) prepares to showcase its recently launched tracking syst...

Appalachian's Energy Center assists counties with landfill gas to energy projects

The Appalachian Energy Center at Appalachian State University recently completed a proj...

Early Bird Registration Deadline for GRC Annual Meeting is This Week

The deadline for early-bird rates for registration for the biggest annual geothermal ev...

Redesigned HydroWorld.com Video Gallery

Hydropower news and information, and interesting promotional announcements are now avai...

FEATURED BLOGS

Transitioning to Net-Zero Living

Judith and Jeffrey adore living in Belfast, Maine – a quaint harbor town of Belfast, Maine. They previously res...

The True Cost of Electric Vehicles in Australia

In order to avoid increased congestion, further greenhouse warming and lessen Australia’s reliance on imported ...

The Coming Multi-trillion Dollar Energy Investment Drive

In coming years, a multi-trillion dollar low-emission energy investment drive will get underway. Three catalysts wil...

The Perfect Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch is a concise statement that grabs attention and communicates value, ideally leading to a next step...

FINANCIAL NEWS

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

International Energy and Sustainability Conference 2015

The fourth International Energy and Sustainability Conference will be he...

2015 AREDAY Summit

The 12th Annual AREDAY Summit, August 8-13th in Snowmass Colorado. Engag...

StartUp Green

AREI, American Renewable Energy Institute, in partnership with ...

COMPANY BLOGS

New coating extends cylinder life 8 times longer than traditional c...

Hydroelectric turbine systems operate in extremely harsh conditions. The...

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

SAP for Utilities Blog

The Eventful Group produces the annual SAP for Utilites Conference ...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS